AMG’S RACE-READY ROAD ROCKET

MERCEDES-AMG GT R

Driven - - Driven - Re­port by FERDI DE VOS | Images © RYAN AB­BOTT (TCB ME­DIA)

IT MAY WELL BE THE MOST IN­TIM­I­DAT­ING SIGHT (BE­SIDES A PO­LICE CRUISER WITH FLASH­ING BLUE LIGHTS) YOU CAN IMAG­INE – WATCH­ING IN YOUR REARVIEW MIR­ROR AS A NEW MERCEDES-AMG GT R CLOSES IN ON YOUR REAR BUMPER, CO­ERC­ING YOU TO MOVE OUT OF THE WAY. YES, THE R IS RE­ALLY MEAN LOOK­ING FROM THE FRONT; MORE MEN­AC­ING THAN A BRAWNY DODGE VIPER GTS, RIDICULING THE SNEER OF AN AS­TON MARTIN VUL­CAN AND EVEN BELITTLING THE OMI­NOUS LAM­BORGH­INI VENENO’S DARTH VADER IM­I­TA­TION, AS FERDI DE VOS RE­CENTLY DIS­COV­ERED.

Aug­mented by the down­turned edges of its gap­ing air in­take and 15 chrome-plated ver­ti­cal grille slats that would have pleased Toy Story’s Evil Em­peror Zurg, the GT R will do well in a re­make of Stephen King’s car hor­ror movie, Chris­tine.

Mercedes-AMG la­bels the im­pos­ing and cav­ernous in­take the “Panamer­i­cana” grille, yet, in fact, it orig­i­nated more than a decade be­fore the car­maker’s im­prob­a­ble vic­tory in the 1952 edi­tion of the in­fa­mous Mex­i­can road race…

The ag­gres­sive face that dis­tin­guishes the most pow­er­ful Mercedes-AMG Coupé from its lesser GT peers al­ready adorned the hugely suc­cess­ful W154 Sil­ver Ar­rows GP cars (and the su­per-rare W165 voiturette class rac­ers) in 1939.

De­signed and en­gi­neered by Ru­dolf Uh­len­haut and Max Wag­ner to cool the V12s of the all-con­quer­ing W154s suf­fi­ciently, the air in­take was pro­gres­sively broad­ened, cul­mi­nat­ing in an ovoid shape with ver­ti­cal slats.

This el­lip­ti­cal form was car­ried over to the newly de­vel­oped W194 300 SL sports rac­ers in 1952, which in the same year scored over­all wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in BernBrem­garten, in the Eifel­ren­nen at the Nür­bur­gring and in the Car­rera Panamer­i­cana. Th­ese suc­cesses led to the de­vel­op­ment of the iconic 300 SL Gull­wing Coupé, in­tro­duced in 1955.

Uh­len­haut and Wag­ner’s cel­e­brated grille de­signs in­spired vir­tu­ally all fu­ture ren­di­tions of the SL-Class, and with the new Mercedes-AMG GT fam­ily Robert Les­nik and his de­sign team brought this tra­di­tion full cir­cle.

Ap­po­sitely, and ref­er­enc­ing the W194’s racing roots, the R-ver­sion – ef­fec­tively the road-go­ing ver­sion of the AMG GT3 and GT4 racing cars – re­ceived this strik­ing an­gry face treat­ment first.

FUNC­TION AND FORM

With de­vel­op­ment largely based on ex­pe­ri­ence in GT3 cus­tomer racing and in the Ger­man Tour­ing Car Masters se­ries, the GT R re­tains the key me­chan­i­cal dif­fer­ences that the up­dated GT C vari­ant gained over the GT S, but also fea­tures pi­o­neer­ing tech­nolo­gies.

Be­sides an ex­ten­sively mod­i­fied sus­pen­sion, new aero­dy­nam­ics and in­tel­li­gent light­weight con­struc­tion, power of the R ver­sion’s M178 4.0-litre twin­turbo V8 en­gine has been bumped up to 430 kW, with a mas­sive 700 Nm of torque avail­able from 1,900 r/min. This is enough to pro­pel the GT R from zero to 100 in a blis­ter­ing 3.6 sec­onds and a top speed of 318 km/h.

AMG’s “Dy­namic Pres­ence” de­sign id­iom forms the ba­sis for the R’s ex­pres­sive and dis­tinct look; form fol­lows func­tion, but func­tion also sup­ports form, with all de­sign el­e­ments hav­ing in­her­ent tech­ni­cal ben­e­fit.

To wit; the low-slung shark nose is de­signed to lower the ve­hi­cle’s back­pres­sure point, two hor­i­zon­tal fins in the large jet-like outer air in­takes route air­flow to the radiators, the front split­ter re­duces lift at the front axle, and ad­di­tional Air Cur­tains calm the air­flow, im­prov­ing the GT R’s drag co­ef­fi­cient to a lower Cd value than the AMG GT.

An ac­tive air man­age­ment sys­tem, with elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled ver­ti­cal lou­vres (nor­mally closed but opened when the heat ex­chang­ers need cool­ing air), im­prove air­flow and con­se­quently aero­dy­namic per­for­mance.

The su­per-light car­bon front wings add 46 mm to the width of the GT R up front, and alu­minium side­walls widen the rear by 57 mm, cre­at­ing space for the large 20-inch wheels and wider track to im­prove trac­tion and al­low higher cor­ner­ing speeds.

A dou­ble dif­fuser, large outer vent open­ings and ver­ti­cal swag­ing im­proves air­flow at the rear, a small air out­let be­tween the tail lamps for ad­di­tional heat dis­si­pa­tion, while the large cen­tral­ly­po­si­tioned ex­haust tip with cen­tre spar is flanked by two more in the dif­fuser.

Ah, and then there is that im­pos­ing wing, rigidly mounted at the rear and with man­u­ally ad­justable blade an­gle to man­age the amount of down­force on the rear axle.

The re­sult of all th­ese com­bined aero­dy­namic mea­sures? Well, ac­cord­ing to Mercedes-AMG it in­creases the sur­face con­tact at top speed by 155 kg com­pared to the GT.

READY TO RACE

One im­me­di­ately no­tices five things when you lower your­self into the fig­ure-hug­ging AMG sport bucket seat, up­hol­stered in Nappa leather with yel­low stitch­ing and yel­low seat belts: The full roll cage that em­braces the in­te­rior; the flatrimmed suede-cov­ered steer­ing wheel; the prom­i­nent red-nee­dled in­stru­ment di­als with yel­low high­lights; the bright yel­low cen­trally po­si­tioned ro­tary switch for the trac­tion con­trol set­tings; and the NACA duct-shaped cen­tre con­sole with the con­trols ar­ranged like eight cylin­ders in a V lay­out…

While well ap­pointed, the cock­pit of the GT R has se­ri­ous racing in­tent, em­pha­sised by the loss of lux­ury items such as the in­te­grated garage-door opener, heated and power-fold­ing side mir­rors, and the use of a quite ba­sic au­dio sys­tem.

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